Archive for Leadership

How Does a Blogger Discover One’s Voice?

When I knew I wanted to be a writer back in the ’80s, I read a Writer’s Digest article that offered a simple path: Get an apartment in New York City, place a typewriter on your kitchen table, sit down and start writing. When you get up in 10 years, you will be a writer.


Well, I did not get an apartment in New York and opted for a dedicated word processor (I believe it was an Amstrad sold by Sears) in 1986 and a few years later an IBM-clone. Wouldn’t you know, in about 10 years I finally got the sense that maybe I could write.

Another way of looking at this is that it took 10 years for me to find my voice in writing.

Since December 2012, I have been blogging regularly, and it is mildly discouraging that I have found neither a voice for my blogging nor my blog.

The Z Section is supposed to be about anything. I fought the urge to “specialize” and focus on a niche to give me the freedom to write about whatever caught my attention. What I have discovered is anything can be anything and sometimes anything can be too daunting so anything becomes nothing.

Will I specialize? Will I focus on a niche? Truthfully, I am not sure.

But, here is what I know:

  • I have varied interests.
  • These interests include my Christian faith,
  • Reading the Bible,
  • Family,
  • Technology,
  • Smartphones,
  • Tablets,
  • Computers,
  • Social media,
  • Leadership principles,
  • Journalism,
  • Blogging,
  • Writing,
  • Pets, and
  • so much more.

The thing is, down the road I want to write books, and I want them to focus on potential material for Sunday school classes. However, as I look over this blog, admittedly about anything, I find very little that point toward that direction.

So, you can expect more regarding faith and how it intersects with all of those things above. Perhaps there I will find my voice.

I hope it doesn’t take 10 years.

This Democrat Wants a New Way Forward for Health Care

David Goldhill, CEO of the Game Show Network, provided a stark contrast about what the future of health care can be in this country during Health Journalism 2013, this year’s conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists, which wraps up today at the World Trade Center Boston.

David Goldhill

David Goldhill, CEO of the Game Show Network, speaks to an attendee of the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference at the World Trade Center Boston.

Goldhill’s experience with America’s health care system has not always been a pleasant one. He spoke candidly about how it killed his father and about a difficult ordeal with his son. (He writes about his father in this book: Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father–and How We Can Fix It. Copies of the book were made available at no cost to guests of the conference.)

Below, you can listen to the audio of his talk to the AHCJ group during a luncheon Saturday. The quality is not the best. It was recorded on an HTC ThunderBolt phone.

You can read about Goldhill’s talk in this story here by Grace Rubenstein, who is attending the conference on an AHCJ-Rural Health Fellowship made possible by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. (I, too, am attending the conference on an AHCJ-Rural Health Fellowship.)

What Kind of Leader are You? Be Like Ezra

In the Book of Ezra, there is an account in Chapter 9 about how Ezra, a priest, petitions God. Ezra is ashamed because the people have sinned against God.

Church in Wooster Ohio
In Ezra’s prayer, we read this in verse 6, “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”

Ezra was addressing a particular sin, that of intermarriage. Ezra obviously was not guilty of the sin, but in his prayer, you would be hard pressed to tell. He includes himself in the shortcomings of the people when he says “our sins” and “our guilt.”

I viewed Ezra’s actions (and words) as signs of true leadership. He did not throw the people under the bus; he was right there with them. It was as if he were telling the people, “We are all in this together.”

On Facebook, I asked Dean Hammond, one of the ministers at Parkview Christian Church, and a couple of my former professors at Cincinnati Christian University, Dan Dyke and Jon Weatherly, about the chapter. Here is what I asked: “… as I am reading Ezra 9, I find it interesting that in Ezra’s appeal to God, he includes himself among those who have engaged in a specific sin, even though it is apparent he is not guilty of it. I see it as a sign of true leadership and a reflection of the community aspect of being a people of God. Any thoughts?”

Dan Dyke said it pointed to community responsibility, and Jon Weatherly and Dean Hammond agreed.

Dean, though, took it a little further: “It speaks of the culture and his personal heart; (a) community worldview rather than individuality. We Americans could take a lesson from his example.”

President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here.” It is a good thing to see leaders take responsibility and protect those whom they are leading.

If you want to be an effective leader, then you better lead with character and integrity. As Dean teaches in his leadership class, you cannot lead someone where you have not gone yourself.

To be an effective leader, those you are leading must trust you. It is hard to build up trust if you are throwing people under the bus.

Don’t be like Mike. Be like Ezra.

Update: I was on Google+ this morning, and I saw this post: Do You Still Want to Be Like Mike? I just tossed in the phrase because I liked the structure and balance between “Don’t be like Mike” and “Be like Ezra.” But, God works in amazing ways.

Leadership Lived: Seamless Succession Planning at Parkview Christian

On January 6, 2013, Brian White preached a sermon at Parkview Christian Church in Wooster, Ohio. Brian had been the church’s family and youth minister for more than two years, so him preaching was nothing new. But what he represented was totally new.

Brian White

Brian White’s first Sunday as lead minister of Parkview Christian Church in Wooster, Ohio.

That Sunday was the first Sunday Brian served as the lead minister of Parkview Christian Church. Dean Hammond was stepping down as lead minister, though continuing to serve at the church as a teaching minister and mentor to Brian and Joe Rubino, the church’s community outreach minister.

What was fascinating to see was the transition of power, so to speak. Actually, you really couldn’t see the transition of power. It came so slowly and so methodically that now that it is done, it seems as if nothing has changed; the succession planning and execution was just that good. From my perspective, as a member of the church but not part of the leadership circle, the transition has been, in a word, flawless.

Let’s face it. We are human. We might say we like change, but we really don’t, or if we do, then it must be on our own terms. However, I have not heard one negative comment about the change in leadership. That feat in an American church is nothing short of remarkable.

It is one thing for me to think something is going good, so I asked someone else in the congregation. I got a similar reaction.

I think the the leadership change has been successful for several reasons, and here are five:

  1. It was well-planned. Church leaders had discussions about two years before the transition.
  2. It was intentional. Because of the unique relationship among the church’s ministers and directors, Dean, Brian, Joe and Mel Wharton, the children’s director, it was important for the next leader to come from within and keep the chemistry rather than to bring in someone from the outside.
  3. It was well-communicated. Once the church elders approved of the succession plan, it was announced to the congregation, and we had one year to adjust.
  4. It was transparent. Dean started preaching less, and Joe and Brian started preaching more. Brian began assuming more of Dean’s responsibilities.
  5. It was a God thing. Something like this could not have happened without God being involved. It was just too perfect.
Mel Wharton, Brian White, Dean Hammond and Joe Rubino

Mel Wharton (left), Brian White, Dean Hammond and Joe Rubino

[Photo of the Day] No Shame in Failure

I went out for dinner Sunday night with my wife, Wendi, and good friend Dan Starcher at Wild Ginger China Bistro in Wooster, Ohio. This was my fortune cookie:


For those who might not be able to see the picture, it says, “There is no shame in failure — only in quitting.”

When I saw it, I had to snap a photo (I took the pic with my HTC ThunderBolt and processed it using the Super Photo Full app, Google Play or iTunes).

This really resonated with me. Brian White, the lead minister at Parkview Christian Church, where I am a member, addressed this in a sermon earlier in the day. If nothing else, then failure at least teaches one way not to do it.

During our Sunday School class, which I normally teach, but Ed Shultz was teaching, he challenged us to make a difference. Again, the idea was to do something and not just think we have no ability to make a difference.

My mother, Carmen, raised four of us, and she always told us to get an education and she let us know nothing was ever out of our reach. Consequently, all four of us have found success in different ways. My sister Ariel was a top hair colorist and massage therapist; she has gone back to school to learn how to work with people dealing with drug addictions. My brother Carmine rose up through the banks in Central Florida before starting his own IT and web design business, then a photography business and now he trains people who do forensic audits of mortgages. My sister Michelle was moving up with the bank where she worked before joining Delta. At Delta, she worked on reservations for the airlines’ elite passengers before starting a business with her husband that is successful in the Boston area. I have pursued a career in journalism and have received awards from the Associated Press Society of Ohio and the Society of Professional journalists for my writing.

These things don’t happen by worrying about failure. Those who live in fear limit themselves in what they will do or accomplish. Thomas Edison said he did not fail, but found out 10,000 ways something would not work.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:6-7, NIV).

Do that thing that only you can do. No more excuse.

Ezra’s Path to Success: Seek, Do and Teach

More than one person with social media savvy has said if you want a path to success, then share content that adds value to those who engage you over your blog or social media networks.

As I was reading the Old Testament book of Ezra, I came across this in Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”

Ezra, a scribe and priest, devoted himself to 1) studying the Law, 2) observing the Law and 3) teaching the law. The Lexham Bible translates it somewhat differently, and I like what it says: “For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, to do it, and to teach the regulations and judgments in Israel.”

What wonderful advice. Seek the Lord, do what He says and teach others. This is a model for becoming a faithful follower of God and multiplying the number of disciples.

But, it also has far reaching effects in any field. Want to be a good blogger? Then study about blogging, actually blog and then help others blog.

Want to be a good photographer? Seek to understand about the basics, put what you learned into practice and help others avoid the mistakes you did when you started out.

See a pattern here? The Bible offers solid advice for life and living and building relationships. By living a life of faith you should be adding value to the lives of others. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God, but there was a second one just like it: Love your neighbor.

This aspect of love cannot be understood apart from service. If you love God, then you will serve him. Do you love your neighbor, then you will help him out.

Do you want to follow a pathway to success? Be like Ezra: Seek, do and teach. Do not try this, actually do it. As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Want to Succeed? Find the Singular Focus of Mr. Thomas

Mr. Thomas, our cat, has a singular focus. Day-in and day-out, the cat has one thing, and one thing only, on his mind.

Mr. Thomas

That singular focus is to get outside, which might not seem like a bad thing, except Mr. Thomas is a house cat.

So, how does a house cat determine he wants to be an outside cat. Well, before my wife rescued Mr. Thomas (some people found him, along with his litter mates, abandoned in a park and found homes for the kittens), we had bought a wire dog crate, but not for the dog. It was so we could put our cats outside. We don’t want them running off, so we keep them in a crate.

When Mr. Thomas was first introduced to the crate, he absolutely fell in love with being outdoors. So much so, that he always wants to be outside. He does not care if it is cold or snowing or sunny and warm, Mr. Thomas wants to get beyond the front (or back) door and get some fresh air.

In order to accomplish his goal, Mr. Thomas has a ritual. Whenever my wife or I walk even remotely close to the front door, he takes off running, leaps onto the table by the door and pounces on us. He will be in your arms and nearly on your shoulder before you can blink an eye. It took Wendi by surprise the first time he did it when she walked in the house.

Because Mr. Thomas is so persistent, he gets out more than we would like him to be. In fact, it is winter time in Northeast Ohio, and we ran into a spell of a couple of warm days in January, and we dragged the crate out, set it up and let Mr. Thomas, long with Ariel and Buddy, enjoy some fresh air in the outdoors.

If we want to be successful, then it is going to take a singular focus. We have to know what the end game is and devise a strategy to accomplish our goals. Above all else, we have to act. A plan with no action just represents potential. Even if you execute the plan poorly, you can still revise and adapt. If you do nothing, then you better expect nothing good will come of it. You have to get started. Now.

What will receive your singular focus this week? What will drive you to act? There is no better time than now to start, so when will you?

Great Deal on Kindle Version of @MichaelHyatt’s Platform, Only $3.99

If you desire to be an author or sell more books, then you better get over to right now to purchase Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt’s incredible book.

Michael Hyatt: Platform

I keep meaning to write a proper review of the book because I am so impressed with it. If you read the reviews on Amazon, Hyatt gets a lot of 5-star reviews, but there are also some 1-star reviews. The main complaint from these people seems to be that the content of his book appears to come largely from his blog and that the book is choppy.

I do not understand this train of thinking. Anyone who has read Hyatt’s blog knows how practical he is and how teaching flows through his posts. Platform is an incredible book, and for $3.99 it is like stealing it from him.

I cannot endorse this book enough for an aspiring writer or one looking to go down the trail of self-publishing. You need a platform from which to speak and an audience to hear you. Follow Hyatt’s advice, and you will not go wrong.

I have no clue how long the book will be sold for $3.99, but I would jump on it now. You can do so here.

Disclosure time: The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. You know what that means, and if you don’t, just ask.


Leadership Fundamentals with Dean Hammond, Session 1

Dean Hammond has a passion for leadership and teaching the fundamentals of leadership. This has been evident from his ministry at Parkview Christian Church and during his time teaching at Cincinnati Christian University.

Leadership with Dean Hammond

Dean Hammond teaching a leadership development course at Parkview Christian Church, Wooster, Ohio.

Hammond began teaching a new group at the church about leadership. He has done this several times with Parkview and other congregations. Not only does he teach leadership, but he practices what he preaches and teaches.

Hammond recently stepped down as Parkview’s lead minister, a role he has filled for the past decade, to make way for new leadership. However, lead minister Brian White and outreach minister Joe Rubino asked Hammond to stay on staff in order to continue to mentor them. The elders, the group who oversees the church’s operations, agreed the arrangement would be beneficial.

With Hammond settling into his new role as an associate minister, he will focus more on teaching, which is a passion of his. Part of that teaching is the leadership development course he is now leading. The first session was Jan. 12.

Here is Hammond’s definition of leadership:

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Here are some of the highlights from Session 1:

  1. The simplest and most inclusive definition of leadership is influence. (This was a quote from John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.”)
  2. Right now there is a lack of leadership, a vacuum.
  3. In order to reach the highest levels of leadership and influence, you have to make a personal connection.
  4. Among the most important traits of a leader are character and integrity.

Hammond summed up what he was trying to accomplish by telling the group:

What we are hoping to accomplish through this monthly discipline is to fully develop into men and women of integrity. Men and women who will become wholesome, genuine, effective and influential leaders.

Hammond will be leading the class the second Saturday of each month.

Update: Something I should have included is that Hammond said when he taught leadership at Cincinnati Christian University, he had used secular authors. What he discovered is that all of the leadership principles they were writing about and he was teaching ultimately came from the Bible.

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